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Girls soccer: Defense shines for Tiger girls

Defense has been the obvious strength of the Farmington girls soccer team this year.

Never was that more evident than last week when the Tigers scored just one goal in three games, but managed to come away with a win, a loss and a tie. The defense surrendered just one goal in the three-game span, a premature free kick by Chaska in a 1-0 road loss last Tuesday.Farmington’s Kali Allard heads the ball up the field during a recent home game.

The Tigers returned home two nights later and took over second place in the Missota Conference with a 1-0 shutout of Chanhassen, and then hung on for a 0-0 tie with seventh-ranked (Class 2A) Lakeville North Saturday afternoon at Tiger Stadium. The Panthers defeated Farmington 2-0 and 3-0 last fall en route to the Section 1AA title.

The goal against Chaska was just the 11th the Tigers have allowed in 14 outings this season. It ended up being costly as it resulted in the team’s first conference loss, and put them a game behind first-place Holy Angels (5-0) heading into the final week of the regular season. The two teams squared off Tuesday night in Richfield.

“We were caught off-guard on that free kick.… I don’t think (goalkeeper Ashley) Becker saw it coming. The girls were waiting for the whistle from the referee as he instructed and Chaska’s player took the kick without the whistle,” Farmington coach Tracie Randall said. “That’s just our dumb luck. I told the girls if we want to be conference champs we have to show up early in the game and put some goals away.… It didn’t work out that way in Chaska.”

The Tigers finally got on the board in the second half against Chanhassen. At the 34-minute mark, Megan Graham booted a deep cross that Kelli Elmer caught with her foot and sent into the back of the net.

“Kelli Elmer played with vitality and strength, you could tell she just wanted to get the ball in the back of the net,” Randall said.

Keeper Becker and the Farmington defense, led by Izzie Ferm, Kayla Kucala and Leah Kaige continued to shut down Chanhassen the rest of the way and preserved the shutout.

The Tigers (7-3-4) close out the regular season with a home game tonight against Shakopee. Opening kick is set for 5 p.m.